The third of chef Bruno Doucet’s régalades – after the original La Régalade in the 14th that he took over from Yves Camdeborde, and La Régalade Saint-Honoré in the 1st – occupies the ground floor level to the left of the lobby at the swish boutique Hôtel de Nell. It really doesn’t feel like a hotel restaurant though, if you discount the wander through a waiting area and down broad cream stone steps to find the bathrooms. Designer Jean-Michel Wilmotte has kitted out the L-shaped space in bold black-and-white floor tiles and contemporary wooden fittings that glow and sparkle against the sombre walls, the whole managing to feel both classically French and individually modern.
While Doucet’s cooking matches the space – elegantly realised classic dishes – the spirit of the enterprise is more traditionally bistro in its instinct to feed well and generously. The signature gesture is the complimentary house terrine that keeps you occupied until the starters arrive, a huge slab delivered in no-nonsense fashion in its baking dish, already half scooped away by previous diners. The message is clear – don’t be fooled by the upmarket overtones, this place is still about feeding you properly.
On our visit, from the seasonal menu we started with superb, creamy squid ink risotto topped with garlic roasted prawns and swirled about with a foaming sauce made from mild vache qui rit cheese, and a slightly disappointing chilled tomato soup whose advertised espelette pepper, avocado, crab and coriander additions didn’t quite come together to provide the required lift. Then corn-fed Landes chicken stuffed with foie gras and parsley with plenty of moistening jus and a gentle background of cooked celery and a hefty chunk of pork belly with braised seasonal vegetables and a warming slick of smoked bacon emulsion. Both of these were heartening and rewarding.
We finished with a plate of cheese du moment and a towering, burnished Grand Marnier soufflé, all sweetness and light. The €35 a head set price, for cooking of this quality and from a substantial evening set menu, is really mind-boggling value. What’s more, the wine list is populated with plenty of quality bottles around the €30 mark, an unusually intelligent and democratic arrangement. The total bill for the food and atmosphere is a real bargain.
|Venue name:||La Régalade Conservatoire||Contact:|
Rue du Conservatoire, 9e
|Opening hours:||Closed Saturday lunch and Sunday|